What’s the Relationship Between Nitrogen Rates and Environmental Credits?

rate-credit relationship


Chart 1

  • Crop yields do not increase beyond a nitrogen rate threshold
  • Additional nitrogen is an economic and environmental cost

Chart 2

  • Nitrous oxide (N2O)¬†emissions increase non-linearly with increasing nitrogen rate
  • A decrease in nitrogen fertilizer rate decreases N2O emissions

Chart 3

  • N2O emissions reductions are converted to carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e)
  • Environmental¬†credits are generated (more with larger nitrogen rate reduction) and traded

Credit: Neville Millar, Michigan State University

Methodology and Science

American Carbon Registry “Methodology for Quantifying Nitrous Oxide (N2O) Emissions Reductions through Reduced Use of Nitrogen Fertilizer on Agricultural Crops”

Michigan State University Cropland Greenhouse Gas Calculator (select your county then use Tier 2 under N2O Method)

“Nitrogen fertilizer management for nitrous oxide mitigation in intensive corn production: an emissions reduction protocol for US Midwest agriculture” (MSU’s 2010 journal article)

Nutrient Management Resources

“4R” Site-Specific Nutrient Management (Iowa State University, The Fertilizer Institute, International Plant Nutrition Institute, and USDA-NRCS)

Keep It for the Crop by 2025 (Illinois)

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Practice Standard 590 provides recommendations for managing the application of nutrients and soil amendments. You can review guidelines for each state in the NCR from the list below:

USDA Resources

NRCS Greenhouse Gas Conservation Innovation Grants (Fiscal Year 2011)

NRCS COMET-FARM Tool (baseline and future scenario comparisons for multiple practices)